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Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Abba's Heart" (Neal Lozano with Matthew Lozano)

TITLE: Abba's Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father's Delight
AUTHOR: Neal Lozano with Matthew Lozano
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Chosen Books, 2015, (224 pages).

What is mankind's deepest need? For Neal and Matthew Lozano, the deepest need for us is to get back to the heart of Father God. With many households nowadays dealing with an absentee father environment, the deep need for a father figure has grown even deeper. Written in a very accessible manner, with tenderness of a father-son sensitivity, the authors affirm the call for each of us to accept the warm embrace of God. It prompts us to ask:
  • What song is the Spirit of God singing?
  • What message is God speaking to us personally?
  • What is preventing us from experiencing God more?
Birthed some eight years ago, this book was only completed with the help of the author's son, Matthew. Both are now serving in the same ministry called "Heart of the Father Ministries." They have many free resources there. Both understand the spiritual hunger in people. The reason why Jesus came to earth is to bring us back to the Father He so loved. Using a journey metaphor, readers are invited to come alongside the authors' approach toward homecoming to God. The first section talks about "The Way Home" that begins with a promise that God the Father is not some harsh judge who dishes out punishment but a loving God who wants to embrace us. They ask:
  • Who God is?
  • What is God the Father like?
  • What is in the Father's heart?
Using the Parable of the Prodigal Son as a starting point, readers are invited to see themselves in the parable that contains emotions of rebellion, resentment, repentance, and reinstatement. God's heart can break when we rebel. God is longing for us to be reconciled with Him. Adoption is His way of loving us even when we deserve to be slaves, He generously gives us the position of sons and daughters. In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled.

Section Two goes straight to the Father's Heart. Rather than for people to constantly pop the question of who God is, why not consider the revelations God had given over thousands of years? See God revealed in the Old Testament. See God in the prayers of Jesus. See the heart of God demonstrated in the passion of Christ. The parables show how great and gracious is the heart of the Father. When we feel the deep love of God in our hearts, our response is pure love.

Section Three mirrors the coming home of the Prodigal Son. Upon waking up from self-delusion, the errant son recognizes he had wronged his own father. He knows that the best is not somewhere out there in the world but straight back into the heart and warm embrace of the Father. It is love that propels one to lay aside high expectations or personal entitlement. At that point, only one thing is needed: Abba's Heart.

Section Four describes what life in the Father's House looks like. It is a house with a new foundation that is sure and steadfast. It is the house built not with our human labours but with God's help. It is an open table where the children of God are invited to feast together. In the Father's House are not only many mansions, but authority to govern with God. The Lozanos highlight five principles of authority:
  1. Ruling with God means submission to the authority of Jesus
  2. It means we have a new identity and destiny
  3. We have a new responsibility as members of the kingdom of God
  4. Our works are essentially acts of faith
  5. We go forth in the power and Name of Jesus Christ.
We learn servanthood. We learn forgiveness. We learn spiritual warfare. We learn to worship. In all of these things come this strange irony. Just like the fame poem, "Footprints on the Sand," believers longing and serving in the power of Christ will gradually recognize that the One doing all the work and empowerment is actually God Himself. Just when we feel lonely, struggling painfully, or enduring moments of uncertainty, God the Father is always watching over us. For God will never leave us nor forsake us. He is God and will always keep His covenant with us. His love for us is unconditional and everlasting. 

Love is about hearts seeking out hearts for intimacy, for grace, and for delight. The authors recognize that for some readers, the father image may be painful and hard to fathom. That is why they begin with "a broken heart" that we are all broken in one way or another. We are loved not in spite of our weaknesses but because God says we belong to Him. Sensitively written, this book is a gentle introduction to believers needing inner healing and assurance that someone still loves them regardless of what they have gone through. In our day and age, it is so easy for the world to dumb down our personal experiences or individual uniquenesses. We try so hard to make a name for ourselves but sometimes we can become discouraged when there are no results or when results do not meet our expectations. God the Father is all-accepting because the gift of Christ is for all. Is there any greater love than one who would willingly lay down His life for us? That is the biggest evidence of how deep, how wide, how high, and how extensive is the Father's love for us.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Chosen Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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